"It’s a tool to protect the privacy of someone who wants to know who a cell phone number belongs to without having to speak to someone they may not want to," says Robert Scott, who created the website and is also a Los Angeles-based private investigator. "For example, a parent may see some texts they don’t like on their teenager’s phone. They want to know who’s sending the texts but they don’t want to necessarily talk to the person. Spy Dialer lets them anonymously listen to the outgoing voicemail message of the phone number to hear whose phone it is."
According to Scott, the site uses direct to voicemail technology and captures and plays back the first 10 seconds of the phone number’s outbound voicemail message — enough for the site’s user to know who the phone user is.
The website, which recently launched and is still in beta testing, has sparked concerned posts on Twitter and other social networking sites, asking if its cool or just plain creepy. And Internet users aren’t the only people expressing an opinion. On a recent edition of "The Today Show," a safe-dating expert cited Spy Dialer as a tool for single women to check out their dates in advance and show host Matt Lauer commented, "Now you’re starting to creep me out a little bit!"
"The site is privacy sensitive," says Scott. "People have a real and legitimate need to know who’s behind a cell phone number for a variety of reasons. Many people can’t afford to go to websites that sell this type of information. We offer them a free way to find out and protect their privacy at the same time." He also says the site features safeguards to prevent abuse and has an opt-out option for anyone who wants their number blocked.
"Our goal is for Spy Dialer to give people information about unidentified cell numbers in a legal, free and privacy sensitive way. For published landlines, there’s free online directory assistance lookups. Until now, for cell phones, they really hasn’t been a true free cell search. Now there is."
Scott added that his company also hopes to see the service adopted by cell phone companies as a feature that helps their customers avoid making unwanted calls. "Hey, if I have a missed call on my cell from a number I don’t recognize, I’m playing roulette with my time by calling it. It could be a salesman I don’t want to talk to or even a wrong number. It would be great to have a built in app on the phone that automatically spy dials the number and works like a free cell number search."
ABOUT SPY DIALER: Spy Dialer, Inc. is a privately held start up venture that develops cell phone-related websites and smartphone apps (spydialer.com). Based in Los Angeles, California the company launched its Spy Dialer website and Android smartphone app on September 1, 2011. The company invites partnerships with interested web and telecommunications firms and has created an API for developers interested in using their service.
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